Skip to main content

2 Teams Made 'Strong Offers' For Michael Jordan In 1984 Draft

A solo shot of Michael Jordan on the court for the Chicago Bulls.

1988: Michael Jordan #23 of the Chicago Bulls rests on the court during a game. Copyright 2001 NBAE Mandatory Credit: Mike Powelll/Allsport

There was some real luck involved in the Chicago Bulls landing Michael Jordan at the No. 3 spot of the 1984 NBA Draft. They weren't the only team looking at the North Carolina star, who would go on to be one of the single greatest athletes of all time, in that spot.

Jordan is back at the center of our sports discourse this week, after Sunday's two-part premiere of The Last Dance, the 10-part ESPN documentary series about the 1997-98 Bulls. The first two hours of the doc bounced between the tumultuous offseason, early season struggles, and background on both Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.

In a league that was focused on big men at the time, Hakeem Olajuwon went No. 1 to the Houston Rockets, while the Portland Trail Blazers made the blunder of taking 7-foot-1 Kentucky star Sam Bowie.

In a radio appearance with ESPN Chicago's David Kaplan, former Bulls general manager Rod Thorn revealed that the team had a full month to settle on Jordan as the pick at No. 2, as most assumed Olajuwon, a legendary player in his own right, would go No. 1, and the Blazers tipped their hand that they were going with Bowie. That locked in Jordan as the No. 3 pick, though the Bulls had some teams looking to trade for him as well. From NBC Sports Chicago:

"Philadelphia [76ers] had made a strong offer for Michael. Dallas [Mavericks] had made a strong offer for Michael," former Bulls general manager Rod Thorn told David Kaplan on his radio show.

"There were a couple of other teams that had inquired about the pick, their offers weren't as good as those two but yeah, there were people who were certainly interested in Michael."

Luckily, Thorn resisted those temptations. It helped that he had developed a relationship with North Carolina's Dean Smith, who said that Michael Jordan was his most talented UNC player ever.

Jordan went on to win six NBA championships during his career, including the final 1998 title, after it had already been decided that Phil Jackson would be done at the end of the season, and Scottie Pippen and general manager Jerry Krause, a particularly unfortunate figure in the documentary so far, had a major falling out that essentially ended his future with the team. The Bulls dynasty may be the greatest in NBA history, but The Last Dance begs the question of what might have been, if not for some questionable management.

The next two hours of the series will air at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN and ESPN2 next Sunday.

[ESPN Chicago]